Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 196

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Chapter 196

I back up and almost trip over something, trying to evade the very angry parent in front of me. In a startling display that proves the apple didn’t fall far, Stars picks me up and drags me across the floor towards her and holds me up in a very uncomfortable kneeling position, eye-to-eye with her. And she is pissed. “So help me, if you had something to do with this!”

I dare not speak, for fear a single misplaced tone would end with my face ripped off.

“Settle down, we don’t know it was him. Granted he’s the most likely... but he still should be innocent until proven guilty. Let’s at least give him a chance.” Night probably just saved my life right there, and I’m let go, my knees hurting from the position I was held in and I fall back, sitting on my tailbone. It hurts, but not as much.

“Alright. Why are you here, then?” The anger has not exactly... lessened, just became less physical. But the look in her eyes says that could change quickly.

I take a deep breath trying to steady myself. “We came here looking for Twilight. She disappeared a week ago and she wasn’t with Cadence and she wasn’t at the castle, this was the last place we thought to look. Celestia’s worried she might... she didn’t kill herself did she?”

“No!” Twilight’s parents look horrified at this, but that’s not surprising. “Well, not since we last heard her, anyways.”

“Wait, she’s not here!? Oh god, did she say where she went?”

“Calm down son, she’s just up in her room. We just haven’t heard anything out of her in the last couple of days.”

“Oh... okay...” I calm down having at least found her. “I guess I should explain what’s going on. I mean I know what happened, not what she’s thinking. I expected a reaction, but not like this. Not that she’s at fault or anything-”

“Just get to the point.” Stars asks. “I want to know why my daughter came home completely stressed out, asked for her old room and has barely spoken or eaten since!”

Understandable... I take another deep breath and relay what I said for the second time today, her parents not taking it nearly as well as Celestia did. That is to say, they are looking more scared and angry. For good reason.

“And then she just ran off. I thought she was just going to find somewhere she could, you know, reflect calmly. Everyone just assumed she went to Celestia and that she’d be fine there. Some of us started missing having her around and we wound up running all over Canterlot to find her. As I said, this was the last place we thought of.”

“But Twilight’s okay, right?” Spike is practically clinging to Stars’ leg as he asks, just as worried as she seems.

“In a word, no.” Night says. “She hasn’t been dealing with this very well, and I can fully understand why. You need to watch what you say a lot more, Anthony, the word ‘hate’ has a very... final meaning. It isn’t something to throw around.” Well... he’s taking this rather better than expected.

“Yeah, I get that. I just... I wanna talk to her about this. Trying to explain it to you guys isn’t going to help much. I just want to clear the air, metaphorically. I know I said a lot of stuff and-”

“Just go.” Night says. “Her room is up the stairs down the left hall. Third door down, shouldn’t be able to miss it from there. Oh,” he continues nonchalantly, “if you ever hurt my daughter again, in any sense of the word, I will turn you inside out. Without magic.”

“Y- yes sir.”

Spike retracts from Stars and latches onto me again and I manage to get him at least to the hall before I force him to walk by himself. I know he’s taking this hard, but those claws are starting to hurt a lot.

I make my way through the small mansion of a house and end up at a door that most certainly seems to be Twi’s. It has ‘Twilight Sparkle’ written in calligraphy on a large piece of paper stuck on said door, the writing surrounded by a bunch of presumably ‘failed’ attempts, given the massive amounts of other ‘Twilight Sparkle’s here, all with strikes through them.

I knock on the door and get no response. Quietly I open the door, the only notable sound being the ‘click’ of the doorknob unlatching. The room is pretty much complete blackness. There’s sunlight coming through a closed window, but the sliver is too small to see by.

I spark up for a moment and get a look at the room from the dull, steel-gray glow I give off. Powering back down again, I move to her bed, which has a large lump under some blankets. I sit down on the edge of the bed and start petting the covered lump, and Twilight makes a quiet, undecipherable noise in response. I figure that talking should wait. I pick up Spike and put him on the bed, where he curls up against Twilight like a worried dog and I continue petting, running my hand along her back. Or at least what feels like her back through the blankets.

After a few minutes, my eyes have adjusted to the dark and I can actually make out shapes. Her room is really tidy, though a bit bare. I feel the lump shift a bit and a pair of hooves come out from under the blanket, grab Spike, and pull him in. If that wasn’t kinda creepy the way it looks in the darkness, it would be pretty adorable. After that, Twilight returns to silent motionlessness and I continue petting her. I’ll just wait until she’s ready to talk.

It’s a while longer before there’s any more motion, but she pulls the blanket away from her head and she looks up. Even shrouded in darkness, she looks like she’s spent the entire week shut away, crying and having trouble coping in general. I grab the mostly wrapped pony in a hug and sit there holding her and rubbing her back. “You wanna talk now?”


“Okay. Whenever you’re ready.”

I feel the warm bundle shift in my arms and I open my eyes, realizing I’d fallen asleep. “Hey. Feeling better? Wanna talk?”


“Well then how about I talk and you just listen? Okay?”

I get a grunt in response that seems to be apathetic in tone.

“I don’t hate you. I hate some things about you, but I don’t hate you specifically. I know I said a lot of things, and I’m not going to apologize because I meant every word of it.”

I get a distressed whine and she buries her head in the blankets again.

But I didn’t mean for you to take it this hard. I’m not saying you are in the wrong here, you’re not. Your reaction is perfectly understandable, I just didn’t think about it at the time. I want you to know that while I do think you have serious flaws that need to be addressed, there’s much more to you than your shortcomings.” I pause but get no response. “I thought about you every day that you were gone, and I missed you. Everyone did. I’m just glad you’re still alive. Okay?”

No response.


Still nothing.

“I can sit here and hug you for another week if I need to, you have to get up and move eventually.” Still nothing. “Come on, I just want to make sure you’re alright.”

“I don’t think she’s ready yet.” Spike says from under the blankets, apparently not minding his new job as ‘security animal’.

“Well, if it won’t be today, maybe another time. Spike, you stay here. I’ll go back and tell everyone what’s going on, okay?”


I walk out of the room and down the stairs. Stars looks at me from the bottom of the stairwell. “Did she say anything?”

“No, but Spike is staying with her. I think they really need each other right now.”

“Look, I’m not exactly happy with you right now, why don’t you just... stay out of this until it’s over. Please?”

I nod. “I figured I should. I just told her what I really meant. I’m going back to Ponyville. Though her other friends may stop by once they hear that we actually know where she is.”

“Well, they’re more likely to get results than you are, so you might as well just go now.”

“Yeah. Oh, and when Twilight starts talking again, remind her that I don’t hate her. I told her already, but I think she may need to hear it more than once.” When Stars acknowledges my suggestion, I head for the door, leaving the house. My next stop is the castle to tell Celestia what’s happening.

It’s been a real rollercoaster of a day, and not the fun kind. I had no idea what that would have done to Twilight, but I didn’t mean to completely destroy her.

My mind preoccupied, I take a while to realize my feet have taken me to the castle gate. Walking to the throne room, the line is still forming. Goddamnit this important! I have something that Celestia actually needs to hear. I feel about ready to pop, but it’s almost my turn. Come on, hurry it up!

I’m second in line and it’s the next mare’s turn but I can’t take it anymore! I grab the mare and push her behind me.

“Excuse me!?”

“You’re excused.”

“What are you doing? Wait your turn, I have very important-”

“It’s not that important.” The mare looks at me angrily and her horn starts glowing. Cancelling out whatever spell she was about to use, I go to open the door but before I can, I feel a sharp pain in my arm and look behind me. I notice the mare is currently biting me.

I grab the pony and carry her into the throne room. Looking up I see Luna, but Celestia nowhere nearby. Isn’t Luna supposed to be in bed right now? She seems very hesitant at my entrance, but a large yawn from her betrays the fact that it is indeed far past her bedtime.

“I’m filling in for Celestia because... I’m not sure, but she looked upset. What do you need, Anthony?”

I drop the mare and hold up my left hand, showing the teeth marks. “She bit me.”

“He was cutting in line!”

“I have news Celestia should hear for her own well-being, while all you Canterlot cash-whores do is complain at her for more than your fair share!”

“How dare you? I am certainly worth more of the Princess’ time than you are you worthless urchin!”

“Uhm...” Luna looks a bit unsure of what to do and it seems I’m not getting this resolved by her in the next few minutes.

I eye the mare, now holding her upside-down by her tail. “Call me worthless one more time.”

“You are a waste of my time and that of everypony else, if you think you can get away with threats-”

“And that entitles you to getting away with intentional physical harm?”

“I-” the mare stops before another word exits her mouth. We stand there for a second, and a quick glance to Luna reveals that the lunar princess’ eyebrow has rising nearly off her scalp. “I have lots of money?” The mare doesn’t sound so sure of herself anymore.

I grasp my temples trying to massage away the headache formed from that singular sentence. I take the mare and set her down, summoning a bit of coal from my pouch and writing ‘RICH BITCH’ over her cutie mark and shooing her out the door. I look at Luna. “What were you expecting me to do?”

“Er... kick her, actually. However, that is neither here nor there. What is the information you wished to relay to my sister?”

“We found Twilight. She’s at her parents and has not committed suicide as Celestia worried. She’s not in condition to speak or eat according to her parents, but she’s... alive. That’s the best I can say, honestly.”

Luna heaves a sigh. “That is good to know. This also explains my sister’s recent... mood. Thank you Anthony. Have you anything else you wish to say? I am afraid I have many more nobles to meet with this day.”

“Condolences.” Luna nods in annoyed agreement. “But no, that’s it. Other than Spike staying with her while she recovers, I don’t really have much else to say. Though I guess I could just go and see Celestia myself, try and get her to calm down.”

“That would likely be best. Guard! Escort Anthony to my sister’s room and away when he is done there.”

I don’t really think I need an escort  back, but I go along anyway. I don’t have much to do on the way so I try to start a conversation with my gold-plated entourage.

“So what do all these Canterlot ponies hope to get out of complaining to the princesses anyways? They already live better than everyone else in a five-hundred mile radius.”


“Do you guys ever say anything?”


I need to get some form of reaction out of this guy... How about a joke? Yeah, a joke. “An apple a day can keep the doctor away, but two can keep away anyone if you throw them hard enough.”


“Nothing? Oh come on. Okay...” I think hard. “A blind man walks into a bar... And a chair... and a table.”


“I'm friends with 25 letters in the alphabet. I don't know Y.”


“Whoever said nothing is impossible is a liar. I've been doing nothing for years.”


Goddamn he’s a tough one to crack... Hmmm... “What was the last thing that went through the mare's mind after jumping from a skyscraper? Her ankles.”


“There was a zoo that had one animal in it, that animal was a dog, it was a shitzu.”


Y’know what, fuck it! This one’s just for me! “What’s better than roses on your piano?”


“Tulips on your organ.”

“...” I’m about to scream in frustration when I notice the guard is grinning slightly at that one. I guess that’s enough of a win.

We get to Celestia’s room and it’s the opposite of her sister’s obviously, with a sun-and-white-marble motif rather than a moon-and-onyx deal. Really? I mean, I get it but... whatever.

Opening the door and walking in, I see Celestia walking back and forth, pacing a metaphorical hole into her floor as she just mumbles and generally worries. Given her proof of the action earlier, I expected her to maybe have a lit joint or something. I mean I have no problems one way or the other, but when you admit you’re a part-time stoner...

Ah well. “Chill out Celly, I found Twilight.”

Clearly being too stressed to remember her ‘I am totally unaffected by everything’ façade, she kind of slumps over onto her bed sighing. “Where is she? She didn’t-”

“No, she’s very much alive and not showing any desire to change that, but she hasn’t been eating or talking. She went to her parents and that’s where she’s been all this time. She’s not okay in any sense of the term, but she’s breathing. Spike is staying with her, I’m not exactly a welcome guest anymore.”

Another large sigh, this time into one of her pillows. “Well, it could be worse I suppose. And... you are right for the most part. What you said was terrible and mean and... absolutely right. Aside from my political job, I’ve only really been a teacher. Twilight was the first pony accepted before the age of sixteen, so she had to live at the school! I’d never been a parent before and I guess that shows. I don’t really have much of a chance to actually be social really, aside from balls and galas, but those nobles are the majority at said parties. I mainly asked Twilight to learn about friendship and such because... I never got to learn any of it myself. But you are right. I was her teacher, and had no experience to base social skills off of and so I could only pass on what I know. I just never thought it would end up this big of a problem for her.”

“Yeah, raising a kid is one of the most difficult things I can imagine.”

Celestia looks up, giving me a quizzical look. “You... have experience? I never thought-”

“No real experience, but I know that taking care of a child is really difficult simply from imagining what it all entails. I’m not sure I’d make a good dad to be honest.”

“Is that part of why you act... celibate?”

“This isn’t about me, it’s about you and Twilight. I was just saying you aren’t at fault for how Twilight turned out. She’s got problems, but they can be fixed. I don’t know why I’m the first to say anything about this to her, I mean the trouble she has is pretty clear. But you have to be aware of a problem before it can be fixed. I went over the top at her, but she just...”

“She’s not done learning yet. She’s an excellent study with a brilliant mind, but... sadly I have no idea how to cultivate anything beyond that. She’s not just some mindless construct, but she’s never really had a social life. It was just study and taking classes and she seemed happy with just that so I left it at that.”

“She’s smart, talented, and frankly she’s the best option I have when I’m trying to come up with plans for the future... but she’s also a bit unstable.”

“I’m aware. She’s had... trouble in the past with this kind of thing. Her use of certain spells to accomplish tasks more ‘efficiently’ has led to more than a few disasters. But I don’t really know how to do anything about it! I can’t just punish her, I’m her teacher and that would make things even worse.”

I sit down on the bed and lay down parallel with Celestia. It really is a big bed, even for her. “Yeah, I just wish there was a way to get into her head and figure out exactly how to present the lessons in a way she understands. The obvious answer is make it like a school quiz, but that’s against what we’re trying to teach, about experiencing things in the context of a different environment. But if we don’t fix her... well, I’m just glad you sent her to Ponyville. Anywhere outside Equestria and the society might have just metaphorically eaten her alive.”

“Ponyville wasn’t my first choice, but it seemed the most different without being too far. I just didn’t expect her to stick to her social norms rather than learning to adapt. I guess when I said ‘make friends’ I should have said ‘fit in’ or something.”

“Well, damage is done, it’s up to her to fix it. But she’ll need help. Maybe there’s a sort of social skills class she could take? I know for a fact the one I took was absolutely necessary.”

“Seems they didn't really do their job too well, you aren’t exactly someone I’d introduce to everypony.”

“Hey, I can be socially acceptable, I know how to be proper, I just choose not to. Who wants to be polite and ‘correct’ and all that junk all the time?”

Celestia laughs. “I don’t! I’m sick of it, but I don’t get a say in it. I’m the head of a country and my job is to make sure everything runs smoothly for all the ponies and if I disappear for too long, everypony starts to panic. I must say, the few times when I don’t have to act like I’m an immovable object with all the right answers are some of the best few minutes of my life!”

“What about the time you came to the spa in Ponyville a few years back?”

“That was a day I had set aside to try and be a ‘normal’ pony for a day. It had been on record for five months in advance and I had to specify exactly when I was going to leave and exactly when I was going to be back.” She sighs tiredly. “I could use another back rub if you don’t mind.”

“Sure.” Next Chapter: Chapter 197 Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 43 Minutes

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